Monitoring environmental complexities and changes: Some lessons from small firms
International Journal of Globalisation and Small Business
Department of Management, University of Botswana, P.O. Box 70471, Gaborone, Botswana
The process of gathering and interpreting pertinent information from the environment and introducing the results into the business planning process is referred to as environmental scanning. This paper investigates the practices and perceptions of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in monitoring environmental complexities and changes through the use of different scanning sources and frequency. Data were collected from 44 SMEs in Botswana through questionnaire and analysed using simple descriptive statistics. The findings indicated that SMEs in Botswana do monitor their environment and use all the major scanning sources with different degrees of frequency. Though more importance is attached to the customer/ market, competition and economic sectors, owner-managers in Botswana tend to rely more on impersonal (written) and internal sources as opposed to personal (informal) and external sources to analyse an increasingly uncertain sector. This is in contrast to previous findings, since information from these sources is less reliable for analysing unstable, turbulent and hard-to-measure sectors than personal and external sources. The use of inappropriate scanning sources could be partially attributed to the fact that most SMEs in Botswana do not have an integrated management information system designed to capture, store and analyse environmental data for use in strategic decision-making processes. Further implications for SMEs and future research are highlighted. Copyright © 2006 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.